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David Sosa, Chair 2210 Speedway, WAG 316, Stop C3500, Austin, TX 78712 • 512-471-4857

Cory F Juhl

Professor PhD, Pittsburgh

Professor and Associate Chair

Contact

Biography

Professor Juhl's interests range widely over philosophical logic, philosophy of science, and philosophy of mind. He has written on the foundations of induction and formal learning theory, analyticity, philosophy of mathematics, and is currently working on naturalized theories of content. His papers have appeared in Philosophy of Science, Synthese, Analysis, Philosophical Studies, The Monist, The Journal of Philosophical Logic,Nous, Philosophy and Phenomenological research and the book Reading Putnam (Blackwell, 1994). He also co-authored the book Analyticity (Routledge) with Eric Loomis.

Interests

Philosophy of science, philosophy of mind, philosophy of religion

PHL 322 • Science And The Modern World

42990-43000 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 302
show description

     Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our place within it. Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology.      In this course we will accomplish two main goals. First, we will learn the history and content of a few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history. Second, we will consider aspects of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have.      The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues. Then we will study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences.      

     We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory. We will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory that have been proposed. A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.      

      Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense, science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe. His view is that the ancient Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires. Relevant facets of Chinese culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures with respect to their fostering scientific developments.

     The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century. We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives. Then we will spend time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory.      The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level. But these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic scheme’. Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

PHL 375M • Realism And Irrealisms

43110 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm WAG 308
show description

A question of  fundamental philosophical significance is what ‘realism’ or ‘really exist’ comes to.  Some philosophers have denied that there are not ‘really’ any moral features.  Others that there are not ‘really’ selves or ‘minds’.  Some scientific ‘instrumentalists’ have denied that there really are electrons or other theoretical entities.  Others, realists, deny these denials, often accompanying these denials with poundings of fists.  What, precisely, are meaning or moral skeptics denying when they deny that semantic or psychological or moral facts ‘really obtain’? 

In this course we will read, discuss, and think about some of these questions, and many related ones.  

PHL S322 • Science And The Modern World

86740 • Summer 2014
Meets MTWTHF 100pm-230pm WAG 420
show description

Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our place within it. Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology.

In this course we will accomplish two main goals. First, we will learn the history and content of a few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history. Second, we will consider aspects of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have.

The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues. Then we will study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences.

We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory. We will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory that have been proposed. A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.

Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense, science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe. His view is that the ancient Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires. Relevant facets of Chinese culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures with respect to their fostering scientific developments.

The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century.  We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives. Then we will spend time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory.

The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level. But these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic scheme’. Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

PHL 389 • Core Logic

43540 • Spring 2014
Meets T 1230pm-330pm WAG 316
show description

This seminar is restricted to first year graduate students in philosophy.

Course Description

The course will be an overview of some fundamental results in logic that every philosopher should know.  The ‘core’ of the course will be the material in first two chapters of the text.  In those chapters we will consider notions of ‘interpretations’ of different formal languages and logics, and learn how to prove that first-order logic is both ‘sound’ and ‘complete’ in an interesting sense.

We will also cover some of the material in the chapters on modal logic .

If time permits, I would like to present an overview of Godel’s incompleteness theorems, maybe Tarski’s ‘indefinability of truth’ theorem, second order logic, and/or other topics.  Along the way we will note interesting results from set theory and relations between logic, the philosophy of mathematics, and other metaphysical and epistemological issues.

Grading

Normally, there will be homework every week.  Homeworks will be graded.  The lowest grade will be deleted.  Groups working together on the homeworks is encouraged, but each student should write up their results independently.  There will also be an oral mid-term and an oral final, the mid-term lasting about a half hour and the final lasting about an hour per student.  Each will focus on a few of the main results that we have studied, to see how well each of us understands the main points, along with key details of proofs.  Towards the middle of the semester, we will set up appointments to take the oral exams. 

Texts

Logical Options An Introduction to Classical and Alternative Logics, Bell et. al.

PHL 322 • Science And The Modern World

43030-43040 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 214
show description

Course Description:   

Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our place within it.  Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology. 

           

In this course we will accomplish two main goals.  First, we will learn the history and content of a few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history.  Second, we will consider aspects of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have.

           

The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues.  Then we will study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences. 

           

We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity.  Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory.  We will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory that have been proposed.  A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.

           

Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense, science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe.  His view is that the ancient Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires.  Relevant facets of Chinese culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures with respect to their fostering scientific developments.

           

The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century.  We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives.  Then we will spend time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory.           

 

The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level.  But these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic scheme’.  Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

PHL 375M • Metasemantics

43155 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm WAG 112
show description

We believe things, say things, mean things.  Words and mental states might be described as contentful, or meaningful.  Yet understanding what meaningfulness comes to, particularly given a background ‘naturalism’ or ‘physicalism’, has proved difficult, and has led some philosophers to despair that there is no good account to be given.  The difficulties involved have led some philosophers to be eliminativists about contentfulness, as applied to mental states.  One might also imagine eliminativist views about meaningfulness of linguistic expressions as well.  There are other difficulties pertaining to meaningfulness that are not driven by naturalistic concerns, such as those raised by Kripke in his work on rule-following and meaning skepticism. 

 

Yet denials of thoughts, meaningfulness of words and related phenomena seems incoherent.  Do ‘advocates’ of such views really assert them, or believe them?  If not, …what? 

 

Another question of broader significance is what ‘realism’ or ‘really exist’ comes to.  Some philosophers have denied that there are not ‘really’ any moral features.  Others that there are not ‘really’ selves or ‘minds’.  Others deny these denials.  What, precisely, are meaning or moral skeptics denying when they deny that semantic or psychological or moral facts ‘really obtain’?

 

In this course we will read, discuss, and think about some of these questions, and many related ones. 

PHL S322 • Science And The Modern World

87090 • Summer 2013
Meets MTWTHF 100pm-230pm WAG 302
show description

Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our place within it.  Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology.

In this course we will accomplish two main goals.  First, we will learn the history and content of a few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history.  Second, we will consider aspects of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have.

The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues.  Then we will study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences.

We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory.  We will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory that have been proposed.  A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.

Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense, science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe.  His view is that the ancient Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires.  Relevant facets of Chinese culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures with respect to their fostering scientific developments.

The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century. We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives.  Then we will spend time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory.

The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level.  But these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic scheme’.  Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

42641 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm CLA 1.106
show description

This is a first course in deductive symbolic logic. We'll study formal languages for representing sentences
in logically precise ways, we'll study algorithms for evaluating arguments as logically valid or invalid, and
we'll get an introduction to some of the surprising discoveries logicians have made about what tasks no
algorithm can possibly do.

PHL 322 • Science And The Modern World

42565-42575 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 1230pm-130pm WAG 302
show description

Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our
place within it. Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves
are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which
deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology.
In this course we will accomplish two main goals. First, we will learn the history and content of a
few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history. Second, we will consider aspects
of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have.
The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues. Then we will
study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences.
We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory. We
will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory
that have been proposed. A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are
doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.
Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense,
science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe. His view is that the ancient
Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires. Relevant facets of Chinese
culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures
with respect to their fostering scientific developments.
The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century.
We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern
evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives. Then we will spend
time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory.
The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level. But
these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic
scheme’. Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our
place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

PHL 375M • Philosophy Of Math And Physics

42700 • Fall 2012
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm GAR 3.116
show description

This course will center around the issue of theoretical entities, with attention toclarifying the differences between mathematical and empirical concepts/properties/propositions/facts. Wewill also introduce a number of fundamental questions of broad significance to the philosophy of sciencethat every philosopher should be aware of. So the course will serve partly as an introduction to somefundamentally important questions in the philosophy of science, and partly as an attempt to make headwayalong the battlefront of the philosophy of mathematics.

I have come to think that a clearer view of mathematics and its connection to empirical sciencerequires delving into a number of fundamental questions of broader significance, including the nature ofscientific confirmation or evidence, along with questions concerning our knowledge of the existence ofproperties in general.

The first few weeks (2 or three) will consider philosophical questions pertaining to space. We willalso sketch special relativity and bell’s theorem in quantum mechanics, and some interesting issuesinvolving the identities of quantum systems. Then we will consider a variety of fundamental questionsconcerning induction, confirmation, and probability. The latter part of the course will focus more heavilyon philosophy of mathematics per se, but we will take into account some of the background understanding(or perplexity) that we have obtained from the first two-thirds of the course. I would like to get throughselected portions of Mark Colyvan’s book The Indispensability of Mathematics, together with CharlesChihara’s book A Structural Account of Mathematics. We may also briefly consider some argumentspertaining to the question of ‘scientific realism’ or the problem of universals as time permits, although Idefinitely want to discuss words and types before we are finished.

Texts: We will read selected papers and book chapters, most of which will be in our course packet,available at Paradigm, with some supplementary material available on Blackboard.

Evaluation: The grade will be based on a three papers and seminar participation (10%). The first will be a3-page paper (20%), the second 5 pages (30%), and the third 8 pages (40%). Papers will pertain to topicsdiscussed in the course. The first two papers will be exchanged with another student, one week prior to itsfinal due date, and each student will make some suggestions for improvement on the paper they read.These suggestions will be made available within two days, giving students a chance to revise their papersprior to their final due dates. Students’ comments will be also turned in to the professor, who will grade thecomments with respect to their value. The papers with student comments will be handed in along with therevised final versions.

PHL S322 • Science And The Modern World

87380-87385 • Summer 2012
Meets MTWTH 100pm-230pm CBA 4.332
show description

Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our place within it.  Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology.

In this course we will accomplish two main goals.  First, we will learn the history and content of a few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history.  Second, we will consider aspects of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have.

The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues.  Then we will study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences.

We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory.  We will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory that have been proposed.  A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.

Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense, science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe.  His view is that the ancient Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires.  Relevant facets of Chinese culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures with respect to their fostering scientific developments.

The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century. We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives.  Then we will spend time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory.

The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level.  But these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic scheme’.  Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

PHL 322 • Science And The Modern World

42475-42485 • Spring 2012
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm WAG 201
show description

Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our
place within it. Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves
are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which
deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology.
In this course we will accomplish two main goals. First, we will learn the history and content of a
few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history. Second, we will consider aspects
of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have.
The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues. Then we will
study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences.
We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory. We
will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory
that have been proposed. A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are
doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.
Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense,
science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe. His view is that the ancient
Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires. Relevant facets of Chinese
culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures
with respect to their fostering scientific developments.
The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century.
We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern
evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives. Then we will spend
time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory.
The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level. But
these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic
scheme’. Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our
place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

PHL 322 • Science And The Modern World

42475-42485 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 1230pm-130pm WAG 302
show description

Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our
place within it. Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves
are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which
deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology.
In this course we will accomplish two main goals. First, we will learn the history and content of a
few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history. Second, we will consider aspects
of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have.
The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues. Then we will
study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences.
We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory. We
will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory
that have been proposed. A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are
doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.
Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense,
science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe. His view is that the ancient
Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires. Relevant facets of Chinese
culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures
with respect to their fostering scientific developments.
The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century.
We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern
evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives. Then we will spend
time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory.
The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level. But
these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic
scheme’. Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our
place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

PHL 375M • Philosophy Of Math And Physics

42575 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm GAR 3.116
show description

The aim of the course is to attain a holistic grasp of Humeʼs philosophy. Philosophy courses are often divided by subject area (metaphysics, ethics, philosophy of mind, and so on). Hume wrote on all the main topics in philosophy, and our goal is not only to evaluate his individual contributions, but also to see how the views on various topics fit together. The class presupposes some knowledge of philosophy, but not of Humeʼs work. 

PHL S322 • Science And The Modern World

87405-87415 • Summer 2011
Meets MTWTH 230pm-400pm WAG 302
show description

Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our place within it.  Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology.

In this course we will accomplish two main goals.  First, we will learn the history and content of a few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history.  Second, we will consider aspects of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have.

The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues.  Then we will study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences.

We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity. Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory.  We will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory that have been proposed.  A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.

Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense, science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe.  His view is that the ancient Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires.  Relevant facets of Chinese culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures with respect to their fostering scientific developments.

The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century. We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives.  Then we will spend time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory.

The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level.  But these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic scheme’.  Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

PHL 386 • Tpcs In Metaphysics Of Science

43210 • Spring 2011
Meets W 300pm-600pm WAG 312
show description

Prerequisites:

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

 

The central theme of this course is theoretical entities, and our purported knowledge of them.  We will first discuss some debates that have been prominent in the philosophy of science.  One is the nature of space, and the substantivalism/relationism debate in particular, along with debates concerning conventionalism about the structure of space.  We will also study some main developments in physics that are often presupposed in a wide range of philosophical material, particularly special relativity and some basic quantum theory.  We will also consider the question of realism vs. instrumentalism to the extent that it bears on the questions that concern us.  There has been recent interest in ‘causal structuralism’, and we will read some of the pertinent literature concerning that.  My interest in causal structuralism is connected with my interest in understanding the nature of mathematics and our knowledge of it, and how mathematics is related to physical theories.  We will try to make some headway in understanding what it is to be ‘mathematical’.  (One of the topics in the area that will detain us concerns whether space is a mathematical or a physical entity.)  We will examine some arguments to the effect that in order to know that some things exist, we must be causally related to them (the ‘Eleatic principle’), and the ‘indispensability’ argument for the existence of mathematical entities.  Depending upon time and interest, we may look at some recent treatments of physicalism, of fine-tuning arguments for the existence of a multiverse, the nature of laws, and other topics.

 

Texts:

No small number of books of which I am aware covers enough of the topics that I want to treat in the course, so I will post links to readings as we proceed.  Because I want to cover quite a bit of material, I will try to find helpful overviews of many of the disputes that will concern us. 

Grading policy:

The course grade will be based on a final paper.  A component of the grade (roughly 15%)  will reflect class participation.

PHL 305 • Intro To Philos Of Religion

86870 • Summer 2010
Meets MTWTH 230pm-400pm WAG 302
(also listed as PHL S305, R S 305, R S S305 )
show description

Religion in general, as well as particular religions, raise many interesting philosophical issues. For example, how can we determine whether any particular religious view is correct? When, if ever, does religious (for example, mystical) experience count in favor of a particular religion? What arguments have been given for the existence of a Supreme Being, or God? Are any of them compelling? Are they compelling when taken together? What about historical evidence? Are there miracles?
 
What about arguments or evidence against the existence of God? Could there be evidence either for or against the existence of non-physical entities, even in principle? Should we believe some things in the absence of good evidence for their truth?
 
Could there be morals if there is no God to dictate what is right or wrong? Or is God himself subject to a 'higher arbiter' of good and evil? Could life be meaningful in the absence of a God, eternal life, or some form of transcendent reality? Is there life after death? Is there good empirical evidence for it? Does the idea make sense?
 
What is religion?  Is a scientific viewpoint incompatible with a religious viewpoint, or are the two compatible?
 
We will mostly deal with philosophical issues pertaining to theistic religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in particular, although some questions (such as mystical experience, miracles, and immortality) may lead us to consider some aspects of other religions as well.

 

Grading Policy
A mid-term and a final exam.  The mid-term will count 40%; the final exam will count 50%.  Class participation will count 10%.

Texts
Louis Pojman, Philosophy of Religion, an Anthology;  

Allen Stairs et. al, A Thinker's Guide to the Philosophy of Religion

Course packet (available from Paradigm, behind the Gap at the corner of Guadalupe and 24th).

 

PHL S305 • Intro To Philos Of Religion

86875-86880 • Summer 2010
Meets MTWTH 230pm-400pm WAG 302
(also listed as PHL 305, R S 305, R S S305 )
show description

Religion in general, as well as particular religions, raise many interesting philosophical issues. For example, how can we determine whether any particular religious view is correct? When, if ever, does religious (for example, mystical) experience count in favor of a particular religion? What arguments have been given for the existence of a Supreme Being, or God? Are any of them compelling? Are they compelling when taken together? What about historical evidence? Are there miracles?
 
What about arguments or evidence against the existence of God? Could there be evidence either for or against the existence of non-physical entities, even in principle? Should we believe some things in the absence of good evidence for their truth?
 
Could there be morals if there is no God to dictate what is right or wrong? Or is God himself subject to a 'higher arbiter' of good and evil? Could life be meaningful in the absence of a God, eternal life, or some form of transcendent reality? Is there life after death? Is there good empirical evidence for it? Does the idea make sense?
 
What is religion?  Is a scientific viewpoint incompatible with a religious viewpoint, or are the two compatible?
 
We will mostly deal with philosophical issues pertaining to theistic religions such as Christianity, Islam, and Judaism in particular, although some questions (such as mystical experience, miracles, and immortality) may lead us to consider some aspects of other religions as well.

 

Grading Policy
A mid-term and a final exam.  The mid-term will count 40%; the final exam will count 50%.  Class participation will count 10%.

Texts
Louis Pojman, Philosophy of Religion, an Anthology;  

Allen Stairs et. al, A Thinker's Guide to the Philosophy of Religion

Course packet (available from Paradigm, behind the Gap at the corner of Guadalupe and 24th).

 

PHL 313 • Introductory Symbolic Logic

43270-43280 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 302
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This is a first course in deductive symbolic logic. We'll study formal languages for representing sentences
in logically precise ways, we'll study algorithms for evaluating arguments as logically valid or invalid, and
we'll get an introduction to some of the surprising discoveries logicians have made about what tasks no
algorithm can possibly do.

PHL 322 • Science And The Modern World

43365 • Fall 2009
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm WAG 208
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Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our
place within it. Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves
are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which
deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology.
In this course we will accomplish two main goals. First, we will learn the history and content of a
few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history. Second, we will consider aspects
of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have.
The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues. Then we will
study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences.
We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory. We
will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory
that have been proposed. A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are
doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.
Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense,
science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe. His view is that the ancient
Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires. Relevant facets of Chinese
culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures
with respect to their fostering scientific developments.
The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century.
We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern
evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives. Then we will spend
time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory.
The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level. But
these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic
scheme’. Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our
place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

PHL 305 • Intro To Philos Of Religion

86605-86615 • Summer 2009
Meets MTWTH 230pm-400pm GSB 2.122
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This course investigates four different attitudes that have been held about
the relation of humans to God. First is an ancient view according to which God's
existence is presupposed and all events are interpreted as expressions of God's will.
Second is a medieval view according to which the existence of God and his various
attributes are suitable subjects for proof and argument. Third is a modern view according
to which God exists but little is known about him through reasoning. Fourth is a
contemporary view according to which God is assumed not to exist, and it is asked
whether anything has any value and whether human life has a meaning. Although the
course is divided historically, our goal will be to identify what is true or false, rational or
not rational about the views expressed in each.
Note: This is not a course in world religions.

PHL 322 • Science And The Modern World

42340-42350 • Spring 2009
Meets TTH 200pm-300pm RAS 218
show description

Scientific discoveries have profoundly altered the way we see the world and our
place within it. Three branches of science that have dramatically changed the way humans see themselves
are cosmology, the science that deals with the large-scale structure of the universe, quantum theory, which
deals with the small-scale structure, and evolutionary biology.
In this course we will accomplish two main goals. First, we will learn the history and content of a
few of the most revolutionary theoretical developments in human history. Second, we will consider aspects
of the broader philosophical significance that these developments are supposed to have.
The first part of the course will concentrate on general philosophy of science issues. Then we will
study the Copernican Revolution, how it came about and some of its explosive consequences.
We will then briefly describe the revolutionary implications of Einstein’s theory of relativity.
Next will be an overview of the bizarre discoveries about the basic nature of matter, quantum theory. We
will study various relevant historical developments, and think about different interpretations of the theory
that have been proposed. A fundamental question will haunt us in this part, the question whether we are
doomed to ignorance about the ultimate nature of reality.
Next we will consider the work of a physicist who attempts to explain why, and in what sense,
science as we came to know it did not develop anywhere except in Europe. His view is that the ancient
Greeks invented the sort of logical, systematic thinking that science requires. Relevant facets of Chinese
culture, Hebrew culture and others will be examined and contrasted with Greek and later European cultures
with respect to their fostering scientific developments.
The last third to half of the course will focus on evolutionary biology since the nineteenth century.
We will first read some of Dawkins’ and then Dennett’s summary of the conceptual core of modern
evolutionary theory, from their own compelling, if perhaps disturbing, perspectives. Then we will spend
time on more recent developments and controversies that have swirled around evolutionary theory.
The matters that we will deal with in the course are fascinating at a purely intellectual level. But
these are not merely intellectual curiosities; they provide pictures of how we humans ‘fit into the cosmic
scheme’. Since matters of fundamental importance hinge on a proper understanding the universe and our
place in it, no thinking person can afford to neglect to examine these pictures with care.

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